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Thomas Reid — Recovering Another ID Ancestor

Thomas Reid
Photo: Thomas Reid, by Stephencdickson / CC BY-SA (

Once you’ve scooped up a copy of Michael Denton’s The Miracle of the Cell, here is another worthwhile addition to your library to consider. James Barham, who contributed a memorable essay to Evolution News, “Confessions of an Atheist Darwin-Doubter,” back in 2012, has edited a new edition of the prominent Scottish “common sense” philosopher Thomas Reid’s Lectures on Natural Theology. As Barham comments in an ID the Future conversation with host Jay Richards, “There’s little doubt in my mind that Reid if he were alive today would be part of the intelligent design movement.”

So, alongside Alfred Russel Wallace, for one, this is another case of a lost and then recovered ancestor of modern ID thinking. Of course, as Barham points out, the philosophical design tradition extends far back to Plato, Cicero, and other ancient figures. Reid, who lived from 1710 to 1796, taught moral philosophy at University of Glasgow and was a contemporary and critic of skeptic David Hume (1711-1776). Though Reid himself did not commit his lectures to writing in book form (they cover teleological and cosmological arguments for design, and more), students kept careful notes and one student in particular, George Baird, left a very close approximation of what Reid said in his teaching on these subjects. As Dr. Barham discusses with Dr. Richards, the Reid lectures are noteworthy for how very readable they are. Barham has also supplied notes to supplement the text and make it even more readily comprehensible. 

A fascinating conversation! Download the podcast or listen to it here. And find more information about James Barham at this website.